As Sixth Form students at Madeley Academy, we were told at the beginning of the school year that we would have work placement towards the end of the year to gain experience. This experience would not only build our skills, but it would also be put on our CV’s. Honestly, it sounded terrifying to me.
As the year went on, we were prompted to find and book our work experience with the help of the careers team at Madeley Academy. I landed a placement with The Best of Telford and Wrekin from the 7th-11th of July, and despite having a nosey through the website a couple of times to gain an idea of what they did, I did not expect what I got. The Monday morning, I felt rushed and nervous. I had no idea of what the campus layout was like, or if I was going to get lost, or if the people were going to be scary. I had had several ideas of what it would be like over the months, and was confused and nervous to find what it would actually be like. Admittedly, I get scared easily.
I pushed on anyway because this was something I had to do – I knew it would build my confidence, it would build my skills, and I might make a couple of friends out of it. Not only that, but Madeley Academy had made work experience a compulsory thing and we couldn’t progress onto the next year of Sixth Form without completing the placements. Walking into the centre, my first thought was ‘It looks like a converted barn’, but I think that was only because of the shape of the roof on the building. Either way, it lightened my mood.
I soon met with Mark and Keith, the two who would be my ‘Line Managers’ – whatever that means. They would be teaching me about the company over the course of the week. Keith kindly gave me a copy of the timetable, which listed all the things we were going to go through. I wasn’t sure, but it seemed like a lot – and it was. Well, Monday was packed. Very packed.
We spent Monday going through everything. I was given a tour of the building, the health and safety rules – which were unsurprising really. Then we moved onto talking about The Best Of. I found out that it was a National company, operating in all the Towns and Cities to provide information and services for the local Businesses and the Public. I was surprised since I had thought this was a business based in Telford, for Telford, and was a Telford-only thing. Anyway, we went through what The Best Of does, why they do it, and how they do it. We then broke off into more detail on the ‘how’, running through key tasks, how the website worked and why certain features were important. We then moved onto how CRM and CMS worked – they’re basically command centres and databases. They were complicated things to learn about, and if you asked me to explain it to you, I couldn’t. I cannot remember what was said to me in the slightest. And besides, I’ve slept since then.
But here’s the brilliant thing about it – Keith must have explained it really, really well because I can do everything they ask of me without too many problems. Even if I do come across a problem, it’s usually to do with wording and grammar rather than how to use the site.
I finished off the Monday by joining TBO as a Member and writing up my first blog, which you can find here. I have done different forms of blogging before; it’s a hobby, which is partially why this placement was suggested to me. I found that writing that blog, despite its short length, was very enjoyable. I managed to help out with some graphics as well, which is a subject I’m used to since I’m a Design Tech students as well as an Art student.
One thing I did learn one Monday: Don’t break your watch. It will make you feel bad.
Tuesday was definite fun. First thing was first, I learnt how to create an event and add it to the site through the CMS command centre. Keith and I went through some client’s websites and picked up on events they were holding in the future that they had not informed TBO of. I’m not even sure why I found adding an event to a website fun – because, let’s face it, it’s such a mundane thing – but I did. I would have been happy to spend the day going through various other websites and adding relevant events.
It was then onto manually adding reviews that had been sent in on review cards. Mark and Keith give out these funky little review cards to their clients, who in turn get their customers to fill them in. The cards are then sent back to Mark and Keith and added onto the businesses feature/profile page on the TBO website. I was entertained by these review cards, simply because they were small and brightly coloured and you can colour in the stars. That’s the best bit! Keith picked out about six or seven review cards for me to fill in on the website using the CMS. He ran through the first one with me, explaining whether or not to put certain details in, and then left me to it. And that five or ten minutes of independence was the best feeling ever.
Then we moved to adding information to the Local Guides on the website ( Found under Community Hub > Local Guides ) and making sure that a couple of picked out items were up to date when it came to information. I was asked the generic question of ‘What would you want to know about Telford?’ and though there are many possibilities of things to come up with, I went with one of the obvious: The Telford Shopping Centre. If you’re new to Telford, no doubt you’ll want to know the opening times and where it is, right? So we went through that and found that some of the information was no longer needed. I was able to edit that – and strangely enjoyed doing so.
The last thing on my timetable for Tuesday was Social Media, because social media is a big part of The Best Of, and is vital to gaining attention and reaching new clients. I was shown how to schedule a post on the business facebook page for TBO and then asked to schedule three or four posts on my own, left with the comment ‘It’ll be interesting to see what you pick’. Not only was that nerve-wracking, but it was also a challenge. My brain literally went ‘business or funny, business or funny’ and I sat for about five minutes, debating on what sort of posts to schedule.
In the end, I scheduled three posts. One was about the new building opening, and the council services moving into it. I chose that because I thought that it was general news for the public and some might be interested because there was going to be a library in the same building – which would be handy for anyone who likes the Facebook page and lives nearby. They might see that post and go check it out then, who knows. I might have helped someone become a bookworm for all I know. The second post was an offer for a restaurant – I couldn’t help myself. I love food. I love food very much. The third post was also about food, a notice about the Cosford Food Festival. It’s possible to take the whole family to Cosford, so I thought it was a good idea to schedule it because it’s something different. And when you have ‘food’ and ‘festival’ in the sentence, only great things can come about.
After lunch it was learning about PDF’s and searching Client’s websites for events that they may have not told Mark and Keith about. And that was it for the rest of Tuesday afternoon, really. I added some more reviews via the CMS, added a couple of events and was just generally nosey. I didn’t really get the chance to kick any of these skills in properly until Wednesday morning, when I was left to it.
Wednesday morning was very independent and I really enjoyed it. I got to kick my new skills into play and got on with things that just needed doing that I had listed the day before. New review cards came in so I added a couple of those on the CMS system as a gentle start to the morning, I then added an event on the system before moving onto doing an A-Z business check of the system. Needless to say, my brain hurt at the end of it and I had to put my glasses on to ease my headache, but it was fun. Mundane, but I suppose I can’t see the boring side of it because I’ve only being doing this for three days. At half eleven, I was allowed to sit in on a meeting with a possible client. I admit to getting bored about an hour in, so my attention drifted to the laptop and job searching instead. I did partially tune in though, because I was on the ball when it came to finding a business card and passing it to the customer as a reference – so I wasn’t totally useless. On Wednesday afternoon, about 2 PM, we went to see a solicitor at Martin Kaye, but apparently we were there on the wrong day and it was Thursday we were meant to be there, that made me smile. It just goes to show that not everything has to be perfect in the work place, and mistakes can be made which makes me a little bit easier about going into work because I have it in my head that you have to do everything right and on time and there are no room for mistakes. Well, maybe that’s the way with some big corporations, but it’s not exactly a worldwide thing. After coming back, I added a couple more reviews we received and then added an event.
Thursday was a bits-and-bobs day, essentially. It was fun though, and I had a great time. I went out with Mark in the morning to Priorslee motors, and we gave them a box of chocolates in return for getting testimonials. I didn’t understand why but Mark explained that it was all to do with PR and I just thought it was nice. We got to put up a banner that showed that Priorslee Motors were recommended by The Best of Telford and Wrekin, and Mark and I were joking about it being my five minute claim to fame. Next up was Aldi! Weird, right? I’m on work experience and we go to Aldi. But it was fun. Mark planned on buying a bottle of champagne to go with the trophy we were getting for EAC in Telford. So we discussed which bottle was best to get, and ended up getting this HUGE bottle of champagne – a mignon, I think it’s called? That was fun to hold. Then it was down to Manx Trophies, to pick up this beautifully engraved glass trophy to go with the champagne. I had a bit of a nerd moment, really. I was listening to the sounds in the building and I just stuck my head around the door of the work room and asked if it was a CNC machine I could hear working. I was right, and then I felt really nerdy. But I suppose being a Design Tech student comes in handy. Sometimes. We went down to EAC and presented the trophy and champagne to them and got the car cleaned well we were at it. Handy, huh? Then it was back for lunch and I nipped down to the co-op to buy some hobnobs and some crisps. We don’t get to leave school grounds for lunch, which sucks, so it gave me the best feeling of freedom and independence ever. After lunch we popped over to Martin Kaye and I had another nerd moment. We were sat in the chairs waiting for the solicitor to return, and I was busy figuring out how they had made the chairs and how on earth it actually worked, because technically there was no support. It was just taught, sewed leather and a metal frame. Nice chairs to sit in, and they were aesthetically pleasing as well, but they confused me so much. Sitting in the meeting with a solicitor nearly made me fall asleep. I managed to pay more attention though, since the meeting was a lot shorter and was just about a list of people. I did see a difference in the meetings though, the fact that the meeting on Wednesday morning was a lot longer and more informal as well. With the solicitor, it was short and to the point. I suppose it’s to keep everyone happy. On the way home, I pointed out the banner that I had put up with Mark. What? I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity like that. I made my dad laugh.
On Friday morning, I was a little sad. It was my last day and I’ve enjoyed working here – so much so that Mark’s agreed to let me take work home and do it there. Friday morning went by quickly, I filled in a lot of testimonials and then we went to Odeon Cinema to drop off some leaflets for them and talk about offers. I honestly never even knew Odeon had an office, but they do. When we got back in the car, Mark asked me if I had lunch sorted, then asked if I wanted to pick up a McDonalds. McDonalds? In a work place? Are you kidding me? Of course I said yes!
So now I’m sat here. I’ve finished my McDonalds, I’m listening to Ludovico Einaudi on Youtube and I know I have work to take home. This is the last day of writing up this blog, and looking over what I’ve done I can say I’m proud of it and it’s proved beneficial. I’ve experienced what it’s like to settle into a work place – if only for a week – and what it means to properly organize your own time to get everything done. I’m sad to say I didn’t get everything done that I planned to, but nothing is going to stop me from keeping in touch with Mark and Keith and get the longer tasks done over the week.
It’s been a great week and it’s opened my eyes to how small the world actually is when it comes to businesses, and how everything connects. If there’s any possibility of me staying here instead of going back to school, someone should let me know!